restoring architectural history in exton, pa

These are the things that make me so happy to see!

And yes, these farmhouses are indeed part of the architectural history of Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Homeowner photo – see more at https://www.facebook.com/WestWhitelandInn/

heaven on earth is home

It looks like a painting. But it is real life.  Taken a short time ago over in Westtown.  I made my last trip probably to Pete’s Produce for the season.  (They have the most fabulous pumpkins this year, but I digress.)

Heaven on earth is where we call home here in Chester County.  Traveling through the scarred battle zone of raped land of the Sunoco Logistics Pipeline horror show to get to Pete’s really made an impression today.

We as residents need to do a better job advocating for Chester County herself.  Election Day will be here in a blink.  The power of your vote is one of the greatest ways to be heard.  Those who are NOT stewards of the land need to GO.

We need more land preservation and land conservation and less development.  We need to see what can be done to save what is left of our beautiful landscapes, including from the damn pipelines.

We have an agricultural and equine heritage that needs to be saved.  We have waterways and woods and wildlife and even the humble honey bee depending on us.

We can’t just talk about it and we certainly can’t depend upon the Chester County Planning Commission.  Pretty pie-graphs and surveys just take up space on a website.  What are they doing, really?  What are the Chester County Commissioners doing, really?  Planned photo ops are good for politics, what do they actually do for all of us? The all like to say they are helping plan our future in Chester county but I ask again exactly whose futures are the planning? Mine, yours, or theirs and those who make lots of political contributions?

I was down on the Main Line a few times over the past few weeks.  I realized once again how I truly now dislike where I used to call home.  And it is not just the great pretenders to what now passes as the “social” scene.  It’s the density, the roads, the overall frantic pace and congestion.  I realized how I literally exhale when I start to feel the open sky, fields, and forest of Chester County every time I am coming home.

But we are at such risk of losing that. We are at serious risk of losing Chester County.  From the history to the land, forests, fields, water (wells, streams, lakes, everything), to the old farm houses and barns to other historic structures — we have to act.

As my friend Mindy Rhodes has wisely said via M. Jankowski “If not you, then who?”  and John Lewis  “If not now, then when?”

Think about it.  Start with who you vote for.  And what you vote for.

preservation party with a purpose

When you go to a party at Duportail it’s alway fabulous. But it’s especially fun when it is a Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust event.

This evening was the preview party for the TPT Historic House Tour which is Saturday, September 23. (You can still buy tickets and it’s so awesome a day!)

This event is courtesy of my dear friend Pattye Benson who is President of the Trust and Innkeeper at The Great Valley House of Valley Forge.

The preview party was terrific and as always wonderful food and gracious company.

And the music. The music was fabulous! We had the pleasure of listening to the CPFA Jazz Mavericks from the Center for Performing and Fine Arts in West Chester. These young musicians were incredible!

A wonderful evening and all about historic preservation. All proceeds benefit the Living History Center at Duportail.

Remember you can still sign up for the house tour! It’s going to be amazing and there will be a stop at another favorite place – Life’s Patina at Williwbrook Farm! (It’s their fall sale weekend)

playing tourist in chester county: rambling around marshallton

Every once in a while you need a staycation day. Today was mine. My friend Chris and I went to Marshallton today.  We played tourist in our home county. We rambled in Chester County.

Everyone knows I have not been very mobile since my knee injury at the end of February/ first couple days of March and subsequent surgery in May.  (Yes, it took that long.  I couldn’t walk, and I certainly couldn’t drive and U.S. healthcare has a long and winding and irritating process if you do not practice Emergency Room medicine, as in push to the head of the line and bypass everything by going straight to the E.R.) So now, as I go through the process if physical therapy, I am thrilled to get out again.

My friend picked me up and we went to The Four Dogs Tavern.  I had forgotten how amazing the food is and how wonderful the ambiance, and the terrific and friendly staff. We had the beet salad, which was amazing, and split the mushroom and goat cheese flatbread.

Then we did the senior stroll of the village of Marshallton – I am moving like a snail still.  But oh, to take in the beauty of this village!  This is so what Chester County is about.

My late father loved Marshallton and in particular, the Marshallton Inn.  When some of my girlfriends and I were in our twenties we loved the then Oyster Bar and way back in the dark ages of the late 1980s some were dating guys who competed in the Marshallton Triathlon (and wow what a party afterwards!)

So flash forward to me as a quasi grown-up (some days are better than others!) and today.  Marshallton is more beautiful than ever and the gardens are marvelous!  Ran into another friend and met a nice man named Ernie and his wife.  Ernie was restoring an antique buggy on his front porch.

Ernie encouraged us to go back further down the lane by his home to see the Bradford Friends Meeting, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.  I am so glad he did!  I had never seen it in person before.

Marshallton is just the village to remind you what Chester County is about.  Marshallton is an unincorporated village in Chester County and a Federal Historic District. The Marshallton Historic District has 65 contributing structures and 3 contributing sites. Marshallton is like a living history site, living proof that historic districts and preservation can work. 

Marshallton lies within West Bradford Township.  In recent years it has faced encroachment of development from the surrounding area.

We did not wander up Strasburg Road to see where Marshallton Walk is, for example. Stargazers Village that thing that was  contentious enough, that it  doesn’t appear to be more than “coming soon” I guess? (Stargazers shows up on this “Envision” website.)

And then there was Embreeville, which started out life as the  Chester County Almshouse in 1798. It is also where Indian Hannah is purportedly buried.

Embreeville has had no news since February 2017 when West Bradford saidZoning Hearing #395 for Embreeville Redevelopment, LP scheduled for February 1, 2017 has been continued to a date uncertain.   There was no hearing on February 1st.  Any resumption of the hearing will be after public notice and will be posted on this website.”  (Embreeville has been so crazy it has it’s own page on West Bradford’s website.)

Now the Marshallton Conservation Trust which was created in 2009 exists to help preserve the village and surrounding rural area:

“Motivated by the desire to see the Marshallton area return to a safe, walkable community and its rich history preserved, several residents formed this 501c3 non –profit in 2009. Marshallton Conservation Trust is committed to preserving the historic integrity and the quality of life in this very special area for future generations….The Marshallton Conservation Trust (MCT) promotes the preservation and improvement of the Marshallton community through initiatives focused on maintaining and improving its livability along with its distinctive character.”

Marshallton Conservation Trust also sponsors many events.  As a matter of fact the 44th Marshallton Triathlon is October 1st. 

But back to the history.  Reference a website called Living Places:

The Marshallton Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.

…The Marshallton Historic District is located along the Strasburg Road in central Chester County. It assumed its present configuration between the 1760s-1880s, with scattered infill and rebuilding occurring into the 1920s. Of the 71 principal buildings in the Marshallton Historic District, 67 contribute to its historical and architectural significance. The 4 non-contributing buildings include three from the 1930s-40s (a dwelling, store, and apartment building) and a c.1965 brick dwelling. Of similar size and scale to the district’s contributing buildings (by which they are far outnumbered), these non-contributing buildings do not detract from Marshallton’s overall architectural unity.

Marshallton lies only four miles west of the county seat of West Chester; its surroundings are still rural. Leaving West Chester by the Strasburg Road, one passes sprawling farms, open fields, and pasture land. There is a small group of historic buildings near the nationally registered Cope’s Bridge on the East Branch Brandywine River, and then more open country….

The Marshallton Historic District is primarily significant for its association with Strasburg Road, established in the late 18th century as a thoroughfare between Philadelphia and Strasburg in Lancaster County. Throughout 200 years of its history, Marshallton’s focus has been on Strasburg Road, and both literally and figuratively its growth has paralleled the road’s. With its integrity of setting and well preserved collection of buildings representing a variety of historic uses, Marshallton today conveys a clear, sense of the past — when the Strasburg Road was a primary transportation route and, capitalizing on its location, the village functioned as a rural service center for both travelers and nearby farmers.

Marshallton can trace its origins to the 1760s when a few houses, a Quaker Meeting, an inn, and a blacksmith shop were loosely grouped near the intersection of the roads to Strasburg and Downingtown. At that time the Strasburg Road was actually a fragmented series of local roads leading west.

 

More on Marshallton:

Unionville Times Living History: A tale of two names, Marshallton and the Marshalton Inn Aug 10th, 2012 

 

Marshallton Conservation Trust: The Village of Marshallton, West Bradford, Chester County PA

 

Marshallton History Off of West Bradford Website

 

National Register of Historic Places Marshallton

I had one of the best afternoons I had in a while.  Good company, a nice lunch, and photographing one of Chester County’s most beloved gems.

Go to Marshallton.

Soak it in, have a meal at Four Dogs, support the village’s ongoing preservation efforts and events.

Walk down the street like we did and wonder about all of the people who walked it before us. Be in the moment of some amazing history and just a lovely and charming spot.

It’s what Chester County is all about.

food for thought

“You have to get people to value history.”

As developers take over Chester County 1 acre at a time, what makes a community? What value do history and traditions have? And why isn’t the Chester County Planning Commission doing anything except cheering on developers?

Especially note the part about Fox Catcher and what Toll Brothers did there. It will be the fate of Crebilly if that plan goes through.

This short film shown by the Newtown Square Historical Society is so thought provoking. I wish more local historical societies would record the history for posterity like this. This film is by Hanna Bottger when she was a student at The University of Pennsylvania. I believe she now resides in New York.

76 years young! chester county day 2016 promises to be spectacular!

Chester County Day 2013, my photo.

Chester County Day 2013, my photo.

The 76Th Annual Chester County Chester County Day is scheduled for  Saturday, October 1, 2016

The longest running house tour in the United States, Chester County Day is gearing up for its 2016 event, on Saturday, October 1. This Chester County-based event, which benefits Chester County Hospital, offers tours of historic homes, some brand new innovative ones, as well as beautiful gardens and public sites.

The 76-year-old tour was exclusive to West Chester Borough for many years but has since extended to the four quadrants of Chester County with different sections highlighted every four years. This year, attendees will be able to tour 21 homes and 14 public structures or sites in the southwest quadrant encompassing Birmingham, Unionville, East Bradford, West Bradford, Kennett Square, Pocopson, Pennsbury and East Marlborough townships, as well as Kennett Borough.

The Day will begin with the pageantry and excitement of a customary fox hunt, a Chester County Day tradition. Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds, just outside Unionville on Rt. 82, will set off promptly at 9 am.

Tour guests can begin this year’s house tour at 10:00 am at the location of their choice. Guests are encouraged to tour as many homes as possible at their own pace. Some of the routes and highlighted homes begin on Sconnelltown Road.

Sconnelltown Road has three stops, one of which is exclusively for VIP ticket holders. Participants with these passes will be provided a gourmet box lunch and a private tour of this home. There will be a shuttle bus on Rt. 322 that will transport guests to a magnificent estate on West Strasburg Road. From there, ticket holders can continue out through East Bradford Township into Birmingham Township to the famous Marley and Me house where the movie of the same name was filmed.

Traverse beautiful country roads to West Bradford Township with homes open on North Wawaset Road and then proceed into Marshallton Village which will be open for a walking tour of three private homes and many historic landmarks. The village also boasts one of the two lunch stops for guests at the Marshalton Inn.

Northbrook Road will lead guests to Historic Trimbleville where they can view a new historic marker that commemorates the village. A short drive from there takes participants to Marlborough Village in East Marlborough Township where a small walking tour will be held.

The second lunch stop will be held at Galer Estate Winery on Folly Hill Road, where tours and tastings will be available.  After lunch, don’t miss a visit to Barnard’s Orchards and a stop at a large estate just outside Unionville.

Route 82 will bring day travelers to the borough of Kennett Square. Several homes here are included in a walking tour in the northern section of town.

No matter how the house visits are organized, the day will be filled with Chester County architecture and history hundreds of years in the making.

This is truly one of my favorite fall events and it reminds me of my father because he loved this tour and went every year for decades.  This tour IS Chester County, and when practically every month we are faced with the news that wanton development is marching through Chester County at an accelerated place  (including in areas like Marshalton and Embreeville) , if you love the history and beauty here, you will love this house tour if you have never been and make it an annual event after going once!

chester county day

Chester County Day ™ — A Chester County Tradition

 

Regular tickets are $40 each and Be a VIP for $100 each!

Make your “Day” extra special with a VIP ticket. Your $100 VIP donation gives you exclusive benefits. Enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres at the private preview lecture. Your VIP ticket also includes your pass to see the homes on this year’s tour and an exclusive tour of the home of John and Paul Robbins, a classic stone manor home built in 1917 which was design by prominent Philadelphia architect, Charles Barton Keen, with a complimentary lunch prepared by Montesano Bros. Italian Market & Catering. For more information or to purchase a VIP ticket, please email Kate.Pergolini@uphs.upenn.edu.

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW !

do you own an old stone house in chester county? then DIY network wants YOU!

NOTE: this is a beautifully restored old stone house. I took the photo recently, and it doesn't need DIY network :)

NOTE: this is a beautifully restored old stone house. I took the photo recently, and it doesn’t need DIY network 🙂

Ok do you have an old stone house you own that is in need of something? The Jeff Devlin and Stone House Revival  are looking for you!

Stone House Revival is an awesome show if you haven’t seen it (I record the episodes so I do not miss any!!) One reason I like this show is the way Devlin works with these old houses is awesome – he doesn’t try to make them what they are NOT and his renovations fit with the homes he is working on. And his is also not a beige, beige world. He is not afraid to use color, but there is a subtlety. He practices historic preservation and adaptive reuse and I think that is terrific!

Anyway if you are interested here are the details: 

Stone House Revival Now Casting

DIY Network is searching for current or soon-to-be owners of historic, stone homes in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester County, Pennsylvania
A new home renovation show is now casting outgoing and fun homeowners who have a historic, stone house that is in need of some restoration work in a few rooms.
For example, do you have a room that is severely outdated or has a horrible layout? Or some living spaces that need to be restored? If so, we would love to hear from you!
If you would like to be considered for our show, please submit your information as soon as you can!
To submit, please email castingstonehomes@gmail.com – NO LATER than August 1, 2016  with the following information:
-Your contact info (including city and county of residence)
-Photos of the house and your family

-A description of the rooms in need and of your family

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